Best Sound Recorder
This is a very tricky post to write about because it's going to be very subjective because I don't know your circumstances. There are however different groups of features to consider for different aspects of work. So I will go through features of many mainstream recorders to help you decide what makes the Best Sound Recorder for you.
Best Sound Recorder - Mixing vs Recording
Many people I talk to don't understand the benefits of being able to mix sound vs just recording sound. You need to think about the type of work you are doing and if you need to just record or mix as well. So with keeping this simple and more of a platform to research more for yourself in the right areas that will matter to you.
Generally you will want to mix if you have more than 1 input (typically 1 microphone per input) and you want to mix these different inputs together. An example in film is a radio mic and a boom mic, the boom collecting a more realistic background to dialogue and the radio being more dialogue focused, you can choose how much of the background you want to hear by mixing this.
If you are happy to do more mixing in post production and don't want to do any mixing then you will have to be in a very controlled environment and have consistent levels from your sound sources for a high standard recording. Unless It's for personal podcast or youtube and not for broadcast you will do some mixing.
I would advise for finding the Best Sound Recorder for your project that is aiming for broadcast standard (regardless of it is going to TV or cinema screen) is having the capacity to mix the inputs.
Best Sound Recorder - Other Features
Features you may need on your recorder. I have already discussed above about whether you need a mix function or not so lets look at other features.
Number of inputs
Depending if you are recording from a mixing desk or straight from microphones you will need at least 1 input. Many recorders come with 2 full XLR inputs as standard and go up to professional solutions with 8 or more full XLRs.
Sample rate has to be 48kHz for standard broadcast recording and can go up to 192kHz. There are several uses for this higher sample rate. First it allows sounds to be manipulated in post production more, effects such as time stretching allow a smoother sound when stretched. Second, It allows for recording of higher frequencies which you may find useful. Finally It helps limit artefacts and quantization error / banding.
Timecode is very useful for syncing audio and video together and for telling audio clips apart from each other, except than the name. Timecode gives each frame of video and sound a unique time number and frame reference. This is important for more professional environments.
Quality is a big consideration the further up the scale you go in terms of project for personal use to broadcast standard. Recorders are but a small integral part of this process and so when considering buying be sure to shop around. If you are price driven then check to see the specs and compare it to the titans of the industry. Your first or second recorder may just be a stepping stone and so checking you are going to use all the functions will also save your money.
Best Sound Recorder for personal use: Here (podcasts etc..)
Best Sound Recorder for intermediate/amateur use: Zoom F8
Best Sound Recorder for Professional use: Sound Devices 788 / Zaxcom Deva
Thanks. Feel free to comment below with anything you would like to see added to this post or what you thought about it.